The cognitive difference between people who regularly abuse alcohol and those who drink socially has been explored using a range of investigatory paradigms. One of the approaches used was the emotional Stroop paradigm (Williams et al., 1996). When the word meaning and ink color are different the color naming is found to be slower than when the semantic content of a word is neutral. This slowing is known as the Stroop effect, from which it is concluded that an attentional bias has developed for concern-related information carried by some words. Through the routine use of controlled designs, it has been repeatedly shown that individuals who abuse or depend on alcohol show larger alcohol-related interference effects than individuals who do not (Johnsen et al., 2004). The attentional bias towards alcohol-related is one of numerous findings that may help explain the reason why such individuals have particular difficulties in reducing their alcohol consumption even if their consumption is problematic. This also may aid in explaining why, after successfully controlling consumption, a return to abusive levels of consumption so frequently occurs (Cox, Yeates Regan, 1994). The importance of an alcohol-related attentional bias is that it potentially impacts on consumption decisions in two distinctly different ways. First, it has a potentially ‘direct’ effect, influencing the flow of thought towards decisions to seek out and consume alcohol, and is principally an explicit, conscious process (Goldman et al., 1999) and not necessarily related to urges and craving. Second, it has a potentially ‘indirect’ effect in which the stimuli themselves do not impact directly on the flow of thought but generate responses that do, and which in turn may prompt decisions to seek and consume alcohol, and is initially an unconscious, implicit process (Stacy,1997), usually with a conscious output. Research on alcohol-related attentional bias with the Stroop has not been confined to... [continues]
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